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As a race the Ghilji mix little with their neighbours, and indeed differ
in many respects, both as to internal government and domestic customs, from
the other races of Afghanistan. . . , The pastoral clans are notoriously
predatory in their habits.—BELLEW, The Races of Afghanistan.
A Sketch of Afghanistan.—By way of preface to this
chapter^ I propose to give a brief description of the
country which, since the middle of the eighteenth century,
has been known as the kingdom of Afghanistan.1 Merk
aptly points out that geographically Afghanistan is the
Switzerland of Asia. In both countries there are great
central masses from which secondary ranges radiate far
and wide, and the Kuh-i-Baba to the north of Kabul may
be compared with the St Gothard* Both countries lie at
the head of peninsulas stretching south, and both are
isolated from the central continents to their north by high
ranges extending far to the east and west. As geographers
would point out, the physical similarity would make for
political similarity.
Its Inhabitants.—Afghanistan, owing to its physical
characteristics, has been the haven of refuge of aboriginal
clans driven off the fertile plains. Moreover, being
situated at the north-west gates of India, it has heard the
tramp of armies from the invasion by Alexander the
Great down through the centuries, until the doubling of
1 The best general account of Afghanistan is the article by M» Longworth Dames in
the Encyclopaedia of Islam. A good paper was recently read before the Central Asian
Society by W. R. Merk, I have also referred to the contemporary History if tkc late
Revgluttons in Persia by Father Krusinski, which is of considerable value.
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